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Episode 42 – Winning the Filmmaking Lottery

Many filmmakers think there’s an easy path to making it big. This week, we discuss winning the filmmaking lottery. Is it really as simple as entering contests and festivals, getting noticed, and starting your career? We also ask the question: why do some people choose money over happiness.

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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The Daily Struggle

  • Dealing with the pressures of making room for diverse voices in our movies. Alrik once again argues that casting diversity is the answer, Timothy questions whether or not that really addresses the problem head on, or if that’s just a band aid.
  • We ask the question: who deserves to make movies? Do we really need movies from another middle-class, white, suburban, straight male?
  • Alrik talks about his excitement for working on feature films and realizing he’s “living the dream.”

Topic of the Week #1 – Choosing Money Over Happiness

Timothy heard about a study in which students, given the choice, chose money over emotional fulfillment. Is it just easier for us humans to choose the easy way out. Why?

  •  Why do we often choose money over happiness? This experiment might give some clues to that answer:

The researcher Peter Ubel and his colleague, David Comerford, were curious about why people elect to do boring work. Ubel says, imagine applying to be one of those guards at the museum who stand around all day, telling visitors not to touch the paintings.

“At the time, it might sound like a wonderful job – I just stand there and do nothing, and they pay me for it,” Ubel says. “But now, imagine standing there all day long while people are walking about the museum enjoying themselves. You’re not even allowed to really talk to them much. I cannot imagine a more boring job.”

Ubel and Comerford ran an experiment to try to understand this gap, between the kind of work we think we will enjoy, and what we actually feel satisfied doing. They asked business school students to choose between two jobs. Either they could be paid $2.50 to sit in the back of the classroom and do nothing for five minutes, or they could elect to spend those five minutes sitting in the front of the class solving word puzzles.

“We found that a large majority of the students said we’d have to pay them more than $2.50 to solve the word puzzles,” Ubel said. “Yet when we actually finished the five minutes and asked them how much they enjoyed those five minutes, the people solving the word puzzles enjoyed the five minutes significantly more. And yet very few of them said yeah, pay me $2 and I’d be happy to do word puzzles ’cause at least I’ll be having fun.”

Peter Ubel calls this tendency effort aversion. And he thinks that this phenomenon is one reason people get stuck in boring jobs.

  • For more on this topic, listen to this episode of Hidden Brain

Topic of the Week #2 – Winning the Filmmaking Lottery

Timothy noticed his filmmaker friend is not focused on growth and taking baby steps towards his goal, but rather focused on making that one thing that will propel him to stardom. All his plans center around making it into a film festival, winning a contest, getting an internship at Warner Brothers, etc.

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Alrik’s film Brother is premiering thisThursday April 7th at 6pm in Oakland! Buy your tickets for the screening of Brother at the OIFF.

Brother (Short Film)

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Published inCareerCastingDirectingFilm FestivalsFilmmaking
  • I’ve been thinking a lot lately about diversity in cinema and wondering if I need to step aside and let other people have a voice as filmmakers. I don’t feel like I deserve to make films because I have nothing new, unique, or interesting to say. I’m trying really hard to figure out what I can offer the world, but so far have not found it. Everything I come up with has already been said. The last thing the world needs is a middle class, white male, suburban filmmaker.

    • I would just say that I would agree with you as long as that filmmaker has nothing to say. But I think you can have an interesting point of view no matter who you are or where your from, it will just be different.

    • Great episode today.

      Timothy asked something line, “Does the world need another white middle class suburban filmmaker?” The implication being that white male middle class filmmakers have already gotten their due and have nothing left to say.

      I would argue this is an invalid viewpoint. Stories may have a culturally specific viewpoint but they are also largely personal. If you tell a compelling universal story from your viewpoint, I don’t think it should matters

      If you have been dealt a good hand by life, you should use it. Filmmaking is prohibitively expensive and requires some of those good cards to succeed. Just look at the difference between average household savings between white and black households. It’s enormous and automatically bars many good people from entry.

      However I like what you guys said on the podcast. Use that influence you do have to help out other people who might not have the chance. If you have something useful (a nice house for hosting people, access to equipment, connections to influential or knowledgeable people) use it to help your friends and acquaintances who don’t have that same stuff you do. Maybe guilt is a sign you just need to help out someone else who needs what you have.

      • Thanks, Marc. It’s good to hear another perspective and you’ve given me a lot to think about.

  • Pingback: Episode 44 – Never Give Up! – Making Movies is HARD!!!()